If you were traveling on foot and found yourself completely lost in a wood, minus your smartphone or an area without cell service, you’d need some sort of directional. Avid hikers know that moss grows on the north side of trees. If the sun happens to be shining, it too will give you some direction. Establishing North, is key and who knows, could save your life. At the very least, you’ll need to be not lost.
We trust our navigation tools and our inner sense of direction to get us where we need to go. In much the same way, our belief systems are like a compass showing magnetic North, and help us navigate our waking life. Our very lives are affected by what we believe, on a social, spiritual, emotional, and physical level. And like magnetic North, they may shift from time to time causing us to recalibrate. Magnetic North is not the same as True North. True North is stationery, unchanging no matter the pull of our wobbly planet.
Many of us are born into a set of beliefs that we assume is normal, or True North. We automatically believe that others live as we do; until something challenges or breaks through that mindset. We rarely question, think about or investigate those beliefs. And why would we? Our families have built lives and histories around them, and often, they’ve been handed down from one generation to the next, cementing them in our minds. What’s more, the people around us who believe similarly and seem perfectly content (for the most part) right where we are. Or so we tell ourselves when our beliefs are shaken.
What happens when beliefs that we’ve carried around our whole lives turn out to be untrue? What if magnetic North suddenly moved not just a little, but significantly?
The expensive education you gained was deeply flawed? The people you held in iconic regard have hidden, minimized and adeptly denied lifelong addictions?
You may or may not know that over the years, magnetic North drifts more than a few degrees. It may line up or be pretty far off the mark.
At one of my first jobs, a female co-worker confided that she was being physically and emotionally abused by her husband. We were both in our early 20s. When I told her my dad had never mistreated my mother or laid a hand on her, my friend’s mouth fell open. This behavior was “normal” in her family of origin.
What does this mean for you?
What beliefs are going unchallenged right now in your own life? What do you believe about your faith? Your holidays? Your ceremonies? Are they truth or mere traditions? What you and I believe today may not be close to what our parents believed when they were our age, or what our great grandparents believed. We change our thinking sometimes very easily, but we are marked by those beliefs.
When new information or actual truth, intersects with our beliefs, it can cause cognitive dissonance. We may take up smoking and learn how harmful it is. We may reject the information that warns us of the harm and keep smoking or we may choose to quit and embrace a healthy lifestyle.
After working in Natural foods store I went to work in a grocery, I balked at selling cigarettes, hard alcohol, and chemical laden foods knowing they were not good for the body. I’m not knocking people who work in grocery, but I could not separate my conscience from my job and I soon left.
Somewhere along the line, facts can be hidden, truth can get diluted, damaging mindsets can take root, and misperception may become our certainty—and lead us far afield. One friend of mine was raised with an Italian mother and German father. A DNA kit recently revealed that both parents were largely of Jewish descent.
Another friend was raised in a caring family but who did not share her sense of humor. She later discovered that the man she’d called daddy her whole life was not her biological father. When she finally met her bio-dad, they laughed at the same things. Although one question was answered, it raised many more.
Beliefs are not bullet proof. Real truth begins with realizing a long-held belief is false. But what if you find out after decades, the club you joined has a deeply dark side? Or that the faith you grew up in has been nothing but a series of lies? Maybe the job you’ve been working for supports causes you vehemently detest or conflicts with your faith? Or a person you trusted and admired was discovered in a moral failing?
Beliefs aren’t bulletproof
Test them and see. Some of these may be easily shrugged off, but the more impactful ones will be harder to reconcile. Sometimes our path can be corrected by making subtle changes or investigating facts.
You may find yourself on a world adventure like one friend of mine. She began traveling the globe meeting for the first time relatives in central Europe and their benevolent acts during World War II.
Hard truths may require more radical action causing us to draw a line in the sand. Relationships might be broken, we may need to leave a place where we once felt comfortable, or we may even need to change our places of worship. Some of us may bury their heads in sand and limit how much information they hear because they want to keep the status quo.
In the misinformation age, it’s more important than ever to investigate sources and even those who oppose those sources. Obviously, for those who seek to operate in truth, such discoveries can leave us pretty shaken. For some the difference between Magnetic North and True North may be a few degrees, for others it will be much greater. Despite the shock and surprise, you may find that a lot of unanswered questions start getting answered. Knowing and operating in the truth should be freeing. Ultimately, we’re responsible for our lives and our destinies, not those who misled us.
Where do you stand? Magnetic North or True North? What areas of your life might need to be scrutinized? When is the last time you really dug into what’s behind your beliefs?
Please let me hear from you in the comments below. For more information about magnetic North, click this link: Does Magnetic North Move?